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Fixing my girlfriends low energy level

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  • Fixing my girlfriends low energy level

    Dear fellow primalists,

    Ever since Ive known my girlfriend (almost two years now) shes had low energy levels which result in her feeling tired very often and dozing of real early. Shes easilly able to sleep 10 hours+ every nigh, if life allows it.

    Since about 3 or 4 months she has joined me on eating primally. She had a hard time adjusting to it, being a big fan of bread/pasta/sweets and also the lack of convenience that comes with preparing meals.
    I was hoping that since eating primally fixes a lot of discomforts, it would have a positive effect on her energy levels as well. And although her energy levels during the day have certainly stabilised a bit, its not of the level youd expect from a woman her age. Also, in the evening she still dozes of very early.

    Im thinking this could be caused by a certain vitamin or mineral shortage, but Im also open to other ideas.
    I do have to mention that she applies the 20% rule rather generously, mainly due to her previously mentioned sweet tooth. Her weightloss has also stalled for a while now.


    p.s. Her stats are as follows:
    Age: 25
    Fitness: No sports whatsoever
    Weight: 157 lbs/71 kg
    Height: 54 / 1.64m

  • #2
    Have you tried getting her tested for Vitamin D deficiency?

    Also, my OH was diagnosed with endometriosis - irregular periods I think is the key symptom. I know many women often go undiagnosed with this. Her first doctor passed it off as thrush!
    2010 - 5,11 and 101KG

    2012 - 5,11 and 77KG

    Train hard, eat well and love life


    • #3
      I would suggest a good medical check up with blood work because her energy level is a 'symptom' of more than poor diet, IMO.


      • #4
        @ Adam: She has not been tested for Vit D deficiency, I do think that she (and I also) lacks sun, living in The Netherlands and working a job indoors. I have already ordered supplements of 5.000 UI.
        Her periods are normal, but that is obviously also influenced by her contraception (nuvaring)

        @ Emmie: She had her bloodwork tested a few times over the last years, since she has been tired for years.
        Her bloodwork was pretty normal except for an occasional sign of inflammation.


        • #5
          I was tired for years. Regular bloodwork here does not include testing hormone levels. I had been on and off various types of birth control within the time I was tired (but the fatigue started before then). I got my hormone levels tested finally last Fall and found that my progesterone is low. I started supplementing Vitex to make my body produce more and feel a lot better. Supplementing Vitamin D, which I have always been low in, also helped.

          She may want to consider non-hormonal contraception, or talk to her doctor about trying a different kind.
          Depression Lies


          • #6
            She sounds a lot like me before I went primal in mid 2011. I used to feel like I needed a nap 4 hours after I woke up every day, and at the time I was 19 years old so I should have had loads of energy. I would also routinely need 10 hours of sleep to function during the day, and I had to drink coffee like it was going out of style just to get me through class or work. A few things have really helped me have more energy since going primal though. First was obviously diet, changing what I ate made a huge difference right away. Without sugar and grains in my diet I had a much more consistent level of energy throughout the day, so she may need to buckle down on that generous 80/20 and see if that helps. The next thing that helped was definitely getting more sun exposure or vitamin D3 supplements when the sun wasn't an option. Though I had a more consistent level of energy simply due to diet, I still didn't have as much energy as I wanted, and vitamin D really kicked it up a notch. I also cut way down on my caffeine intake because I realized I was using it as a crutch, and after adjusting my diet and sun exposure I really found that I didn't need it anyway. Lastly, I see that she doesn't exercise. I know it can be tough to exercise when you don't feel like you have the energy to even get off the couch, trust me I've been there, but if she can even just start going for easy walks I really think it will help tremendously. The right kind of exercise will leave her energized and wanting to exercise more because it just makes a person feel good. It could be helpful for her to have a complete blood profile done too, as she could have some other deficiency that is causing her low energy levels.


            • #7
              Just some general advice. My wife has always needed 10+ hours of sleep. I think its just a natural variant in her case as her daily activity and energy levels are great. I personally do best on 6-8 hours.

              Your girlfriend would do well to exercise. Really anything to get her moving that she is interested in doing would be great. Its mood lifting, relieves stress, promotes good hormonal function, boosts cognition....on and on. She needs to move!

              I wouldn't focus on the weight with someone dealing with fatigue or possible depressive type symptoms. Focus on feeling good about the changes she makes to be healthier. Focus on activities to improve her outlook and challenge her a bit physically.

              Food wise....egg yolks, fish and shellfish, liver, bone broth and butter. Get those fat soluble vitamins and good hormone precursors up.
              Last edited by Neckhammer; 01-11-2013, 08:46 AM.


              • #8
                I have always loved to sleep 9 or 10 hours. I frequently fall asleep around 8pm or 8:30. I am more of an early riser type of person, too. It is much easier for me to get up early than stay up late and I get VERY unhappy if I'm forced to stay up too late.

                In my personal opinion, the Primal Blueprint and Paleo both make a big deal about getting enough sleep. This has been liberating for me to recognize that sleeping as much as I feel is right for me is not only good for me but within my rights to do without guilt.

                I would consider your girlfriend's early to bed routine to only be a problem if it is a problem for HER. And I would not consider that to be evidence of "low energy."

                Now, if she has no energy at all during the day, then maybe that is a problem. But she's going to have to be the one to address it. Getting some low-level exercise like walking out in the sunshine and eating nutrient dense foods, avoiding sugar and flour, should help, but not everybody is a bounding ball of energy, either. All the exercise the Primal Blueprint fitness program asks of you would probably kill me if I did every bit of it on the schedule that is recommended. And I'm someone who walked the length of the US. I don't really consider walking to be a lot of exercise. It's all that running around chasing balls and jumping up and down kind of stuff that kills me. I have always despised that sort of thing.
                Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.


                • #9
                  Has she had her iron levels checked? That's always my first thought with fatigue, being a woman of reproductive age she may be anemic. Vitamin D is also a consideration.


                  • #10
                    Thanks for all the replies, Ill try to answer most of the questions.

                    The bloodwork she had done indeed didnt include checking hormonal levels. Ill tell her to get that checked out.
                    Apparently her Iron levels have been good the for the last few years.

                    Excercising hmmz... a few day ago I `tried` to let her do a (tabata interval) bodyweight movement programm with me. Lets just say that it didn't work out. When I tried to motivate her to do that last few reps she went full drillsergeant on me. So instead of her pushing through, it was me that had to work.
                    On a serious note, she is willing to take up some zumba classes. However, we're very likely to move to another city within a while and most gyms that offer those classes only work with year contracts. Once we have moved she will join a zumba like class though.

                    We'll be starting vitamin D soon and I'll try to let her eat liver/bone broth asap.

                    Shbikes: I agree that its only a problem if she thinks its a problem. And shes does indeed want to have more energy in the evening (not just to keep up with me). I don't want her to be a bouncing ball of energy, just that she'd have more time for herself in the evenings and the energy to actually do something with it.


                    • #11
                      Her thyroid hormone level should be checked, low thyroid often causes lethargy.

                      I'm pretty lazy about exercise myself. A 30 minute daily walk could be helpful and isn't a huge commitment.

                      PS About non-hormonal contraception: I've had my copper IUD in for 11 years now, zero problems.
                      Natural products super cheap @ iherb: Use discount code SEN850 at for $10 off first order; free shipping $20+ order in USA


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Lajoie View Post
                        The bloodwork she had done indeed didnt include checking hormonal levels. Ill tell her to get that checked out.
                        Apparently her Iron levels have been good the for the last few years.
                        While her iron levels might be good, her ferritin levels might be very low. Causes and Symptoms of Low Ferritin | *.

                        I also think getting thyroid checked is a good idea--TSH, free T4, free T3.


                        • #13
                          I honestly would not worry too much about her sleep. I personally have always fuctioned better with 8-10 hrs of sleep. It's just the question of how she functions daily that could be of concern.


                          • #14
                            I was the same until I was strictly primal for a month or so really.
                            Now I have incredible energy.
                            I can sleep properly too. But not eating properly generally leads to bad sleep which sleeps to more tiredness.
                            I think the first step is to fully embrace the lifestyle and give it a good go and then see how she is going.


                            • #15
                              I can't do the 20% thing. 1% affects me too.